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Need help defining a six sigma project

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  • #30453

    Steve Moroney
    Member

    I am trying to get a clear definition of what sort of project should be classified as a 6sigma project.  The executives in my company believe that any project that saves the company money (cost reduction) is a 6sigma project.  I disagree.  Here’s the scenario I’m facing:
    I was assigned a project where I was asked to develop a repair process to salvage product that was found to be defective.  Definitely a worthy project, but in my interpretation it is not a 6sigma project.  Here’s why:  The process that’s failing is an injection molding step.  We’re bonding silicone to a metal part.  We have a very large number of parts that develop disbonds (failed bonds to the metal part).  The project I’ve been assigned is to find a silicone that will fix the disbonds and thereby salvage a part that was previously unusable.  This project does not address the root cause of the disbond, which in my mind would be the real 6sigma project.
    I’ve debated this with the plant manager and quality manager and both feel this can be placed into the 6sigma category.
    I am looking for opinions on this in order to support my position.  Of course, if I get feedback opposing my position with an explanation I will obviously listen to that as well.  I appreciate any feedback I get.

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    #79335

    Tony G
    Member

    May be a green belt project — not a black belt project.

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    #79337

    jtucci
    Participant

    Steve,
    You’re right not a Six Sigma Project, but it is tough to “fight city hall” especially when management is feeling bottom-line pain from an existing problem.  Here is a way to get a win/win on this one.
    Step 1: Stop the Bleeding
    Meet management where they are at by getting a “quick win” on finding a solution to getting the scrapped parts back into production.  Do not get hung up trying to force fit DMAIC model to get this done.  Get the right people in the room and brainstorm potential solutions and lock in an action plan to test the best potential solutions.  GE called this approach a Work-Out.  This will put some money in the bank and take the pressure off giving you and management the opportunity to then go after root cause in step 2.  Set a target of 30 days to put solutions into place that will stop the bleeding.  Position yourself as the facilitator/coach of this step, but have a clear project leader from the line assigned, if they have been trained as a greenbelt so much the better.  As coach use your skills to facilitate the brainstorming and action plan creation, but have the leader take responsibility for follow-through.
    Step 2: Launch the Black Belt Project to go after Root Cause
    The “air cover” step 1 provides should make it much easier to get the time, resources and management support you need to fix the real problem through the application of DMAIC. 
    Hope this helps.

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    #79346

    girish
    Participant

    Dear Steve,
    As a practising blackbelt , I share my views as under.
    Any project aiming at defect reduction,cost reduction,cycle time reduction is a six sigma project. However following points are also to be looked at before you take the project as six sigma.
    The project should have significant business impact.If you take a trivial project as six sigma , then it is like using a machinegun to kill a fly.
    The project solutions should not be evident .I mean sufficient complexity should be there which will bring full value of using DMAIC approach & other related statistical tools.
    If your project meets the requirements spelt above it is a six sigma project
    If you need further clarifications my email ID is :[email protected]
    Good Luck
    Best Regards
    Girish

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    #79348

    CT
    Participant

    Hi Steve,
    I agree with you.  In order for it to be catergorised as a SS project, you do NOT already know the solution.  But this has the potential to develop into a BB project if you have the time & resources.
    From the savings perspective, what we practice is: (a guideline that hardly anyone follows!):
    BB Project: Annual Savings of $100K or 50% improvement from baseline.
    GB Project: Annual Savings of $40K or 25% improvement from baseline.
    It is natural for execs to want their SS reports to look good.  What you can try to sell to them is that these ‘non-DMAIC’ projects should be categorised as ‘Continuous Improvement’ Projects.  Let them merge it into the SS report, that way, you both get what you want.
    Good Luck!
    CT.

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    #79350

    Ron
    Member

    Steve you won’t find much support for your position here. Six Sigma is a methodology for problem solving. Although we would like to see six sigma projects focused on major and strategic problems there are a variety of problems to be solved.
    If it is not as large as you might think your expertise should bespent on make it a greebelt project and go for it.
    I’ve seen many many people rely on greenbelts forthe bulk of sixsigma activity.
    If I were you I’d grab that project and several others under greenbelts and you can oversee them all as one large sixsigma project.
     

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    #79507

    Chris Carroll
    Participant

     I am new to these forums, but I did want to comment on Steve’s Project. As a learning Green Belt, I would say that this is a Six Sigma Project. As the focus is on a post process, that has a known failures. Though the product is considered “scrap” after the failed bond happens. The reason why the bond is the issue, but a new process of repair is perhaps the managements new position. Thus, a new process is under design.
    As a green belt I would search out the many various types of silicones, and run them on the scraped pieces. If a silicone bond can be made with the scrap parts. Then proven to be repeatable and reliable. Then I would have the basis for a new process, or perhaps a new production line for repairs only. If you think that General Motors of Ford simply throws away the defective cars that are produced on a line simply because its to time consuming to fix them, that’s not going to happen. 
     I guess in my overview might be naïve, from a Green Belt point of view, but I would also suggest that if this is not a MBB objective as well. Then I think the MBB’s need to rethink the big picture. The world does not have to be saved every day. Perhaps they might think it does. But sometimes the littlest projects evolve into far larger objectives.
     Personally, I would get aggressive with this, it does have potential. I am not in support for your situation. As the company is in need of a process, not selective assignments.
     Chris C

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    #79508

    drew
    Participant

    Your’s is not a unique problem.  I’ve read the several responses, and chose to respond under this on since I agree with it.
    A BB or GB is a problem solver.  You have many tools at your disposal; the DMAIC methodology is one.  A “real” 6-sigma project aims at getting to the root cause of defects and eliminating them.  You have an opportunity to help the business.  Finding a good way to repair a defect is a fine continuous improvement project, but only adds a non-value added step to a process (remember the hidden factory?).  But, do it first, since that’s what was requested. 
    Once you’ve “stopped the bleeding” by getting a quick and cheap repair process in, then use DMAIC with a team to identufy the root cause of the problem and reduce the variation in the process (special & common cause) to eliminate the defect.
    Good Luck…..
     

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    #79509

    herrinjs
    Participant

    Steve,
    I think your perspective is correct.  The “real improvement” for your company is to identify and correct the root cause of this disbond failure.  But, within the Six Sigma Methodology (Deliverable 1 – VOC), there is a “sub-step” that is a containment plan.  If the problem is severe and needs to be addressed rapidly, you put a containment plan in place to “stop the bleeding”.  Then you proceed with the project to find and address the root cause of the problem.
    The hazard you may face is that once the containment plan is in place, it will ease the pain and your management may divert you to other problems instead of truly finishing this project.  This will not be good, because the pain (symptom) will be reduced, but the illness (defect) will remain.  In order to practice Six Sigma, the root cause (illness) needs to be fixed (cured).  In fact, most Six Sigma books talk of getting rid of the “hidden plant”.  This “hidden plant” describes the additional process steps (and cost) that are required to fix defects (rework).  You’re supposed to prevent the defect from ever occuring.
    As you develop your charter for this project, make sure you describe the containment plan and the rest of the project well, then get managements buy-in/sign-offs.
    Good Luck

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    #79513

    Ashok
    Participant

    Repair itself a nonvalue added activity. Creating a repair process itself is a addition of nonvalue added process. Hence it is not a worthy project at all?
    Anyway if someone want to learn from past mistake than it may be graded as learning project.
    Regards
    Ashok

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    #79515

    Gemma D
    Participant

    Steve
    It would seem to me that to choose the right repair process, you need to drive backwards anyways to find out the reason for disbonding so that the right repair job can be done.  Yes, you could choose the types of fixes and  go ahead and do a DOE and then work backwards from those findings to get at the root cause.  But wouldn’t it be better to turn the problem around and say ” Okay, for me to choose the optimal fix, I’d better first look at what is causing the problem and THEN choose the right repair.” 
    Your ongoing presentations to management are in  terms of how it relates to the repair but when it gets close to the improve phase, you should be at a point to say ” Fix A is our piloted solution but by the way, we think it is going to work because this is what is causing the problem.  Should I fix that while I’m at it?”

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